Research by the University of Toronto Citizen Lab shows that computer back doors are a permanent security risk to users through out the world.
Their research based on events in the middle east demonstrates readily available commercial software is being used by governments to infiltrate computers used by critics and dissidents.
Bloomberg news reported the case of Ahmed Mansoor who was sitting in “his study in Dubai and made the mistake of clicking on a Microsoft Word attachment that arrived in an e-mail, labeled “very important” in Arabic, from a sender he thought he recognized.
“With that click, the pro-democracy activist unwittingly downloaded spyware that seized on a flaw in the Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) program to take over his computer and record every keystroke. The hackers infiltrated his digital life so deeply they still accessed his personal e-mail even after he changed his password.
Since then, Mansoor, 42, an electrical engineer and father of four, says he has suffered two beatings by thugs in September during his campaign for citizens’ civil rights in the Persian Gulf federation of the United Arab Emirates. While those assailants remain unknown, researchers say they’ve figured out what was behind the virtual assault.